Leaving behind your work life and everyday routine is a thrilling and intimidating process for any retiree. Many of us lose a source of personal fulfillment when we say goodbye to our professional careers. However, you can still find exciting and engaging work to do in your golden years. Volunteering in retirement allows you to give back to the community you love and pursue passion projects you might not have found in your 9-to-5. But where do you start?
Volunteering in retirement: How to find the right opportunity
Finding the right volunteer work to match your interests and situation takes self-awareness and research. You have to take stock of who you are as an individual and what work would be the most suitable, practically and personally.
Identify your passions
It’s easy to say, “I’ll just start looking online.” However, searching without any direction will exhaust and overwhelm you. You may think you’re ready to offer help anywhere that needs it, but that won’t fulfill you in the long run. Narrow down your search.
So, when you are considering volunteering in retirement, start with who you are as an individual. Do you have any specific passions you care about? For example, if you’ve owned any rescue pets throughout your life, you might enjoy helping an animal shelter. When you work in an area that personally interests you, you’ll find it more enjoyable and satisfying.
Determine your best attributes
You’ve spent your whole life working and building up the person you are today. That process comes with a lot of skills and knowledge. Take those abilities into account when you look for opportunities for volunteering in retirement.
Certain organizations might need specialized help that you could offer. For example, a local nonprofit might be overwhelmed with its upcoming fundraiser. Someone with event planning or coordinating skills could be a big relief to them. Alternatively, that same nonprofit might be trying to fix up their website. If you have computer science or content creation in your background, you could help get it running smoothly.
Skills don’t come from work experience alone, either. If you have great interpersonal skills, you might be well suited to volunteering that involves in-person interaction instead of working behind the scenes.
Once you know where you stand, you can start researching. There may be local listings in your community for you to look through, such as in your church. You can also look online for opportunities that suit you. AmeriCorps is a U.S. government website that connects individuals to nearby causes. They even have a subgroup called AmeriCorps Seniors that focuses on helping individuals 55 and older find volunteer opportunities. Take into account who you are, your skills, and your long-term goals during your search.
Assess your commitment
Volunteering in retirement should be something that enhances your life. If you stretch yourself too thin and overcommit, you’ll quickly lose your enthusiasm, though. When you find an organization you like, make sure you know what commitment level you can offer.
It would be best to have a physical schedule. Take any calendar and mark out each week with what hours you can put towards volunteering. Set aside any time frames you’ll need for prior obligations and free-time. With that, you can clearly define what hours are available. That way, you can communicate your abilities to your organization from the get-go. They’ll be able to rely on you more consistently then, and you won’t feel overburdened.
Volunteering in Retirement: Ways you can make an impact
Each volunteering opportunity is unique and should fit your interests and needs. Here are a few suggestions to get you started:
Become an advocate for the cause
Sometimes, the most crucial thing you can give to a cause is a voice. Your position as a retiree comes with years and years of insight that could help fill that role. Use your time and experiences to bring your perspective on a local issue to the forefront. Or help your charity craft one of their own. Depending on your group’s needs, your advocacy could reach your local government and higher.
Share your expertise and skillset
Any type of work will give you a specific skillset. All those years under your belt have left you with some sharp tools, so think about how you can share them. From something like leadership skills to accounting, you have something unique to bring to the table.
Organize events (virtual or in-person)
One of the most direct ways a cause supports itself is through events, like fundraisers. It often takes all hands on deck and requires extra funding. You can support local organizations by helping to run or support their events. Events’ needs depend on their circumstances, such as whether they’re in-person or online, so just check in with your group to see how you can help.
Fundraisers are crucial to any volunteer group. Nonprofits especially depend on donations to keep doing what they do. Use the time during your retirement to find fundraisers you want to support. If you can’t afford to help financially, donate some of your time instead. You can help organize the event or use your skillset to help it run smoothly.
One of the most vulnerable groups who need help is children. Particularly in low-funding areas, kids need figures to look up to and help them along the way. Taking on the position of coach for a local team can be an excellent method. Or, you could consider helping local schools fund specific programs, like STEM. Either way, you’re providing a support network and helping them strive towards their dreams.
Every furry (and not so furry) friend needs a home. You can contribute to your community’s animal shelter by adopting or fostering. It helps reduce numbers and allows the shelter to spread out its resources.
If you’re not in the position to foster or adopt, there are still a ton of ways to support your local shelter. Cash and item donations are always readily accepted. That can include dog and cat food, leashes, toys, treats, pet beds, and even blankets.
Lend a hand in your neighborhood
You might have some neighbors or even family members that could use a little extra help. Vulnerable groups like those with disabilities or seniors may need help with everyday affairs. You can personally offer to run errands for them or check with your local organizations. Some may focus specifically on helping the vulnerable in your area.
The Bottom Line
Even though it’s good to go in with a plan, don’t be afraid to test the waters. Talk to the people in the nonprofits or groups you’re interested in to see what they have to say. You could even set up a trial period for your volunteer work. Even if it doesn’t suit you, it might be the right stepping stone to the path that fits you. And starting that path is a surefire way to bring you joy and fulfillment during your golden years. On it, you’ll stay connected to the things that matter most, and you’ll get to see how valuable your generosity can be.
Suppose you’re interested in starting your own volunteer group or figuring out how much funding you can allocate towards local groups. In that case, you might want to get a read on your financial situation. A financial planner can help you create a budget that will help you accomplish all you want without overstepping your means. Consider contacting us for help during your transition into retirement.